So what is the difference between a train set and a model railway layout? Very little to be honest and to be clear there is nothing wrong with a train set, but there are some differences and if the interest is there a train set can evolve into a layout.
A Train Set
A train set is usually bought as a complete package, it will include a locomotive, rolling stock, a controller and track. In other words everything required to have a moving model train. Most major companies produce these and they are a great entry into the hobby. For instance my first train set was the original Hornby blue and yellow Intercity 125.
You could also buy these things separately but the principle is the same, the track is set up temporarily on a table or on the floor and packed away in a box when finished with.
In my opinion a layout is where the track is permanently attached to a surface; this is may be portable or a permanent fitting but the track is fixed to something. The actual beauty of a layout is that they come in all shapes and sizes; from massive loft busting towns and villages to little Dioramas that can be stored on a shelf or under the bed. Layouts can be scenic masterpieces but they certainly don’t have to be and some people in the hobby just like to collect and run trains; Scenery is not a consideration.
It’s Your Hobby
So there it is, remember there is no right wrong way here, a small section of track on a table with a couple of buildings here and there and watching the train go by is great. Pick it up and pack away at the end of the evening.
But even if the track is simply glued to a small board and left in a corner when not in use, you have a layout; and who knows where that may lead you…
Remember it’s your hobby; enjoy it the way you want to.